Richard Cole, who has died aged 103, was the last survivor of the 80 US airmen known as the “Doolittle Raiders” who carried out the first bombing raid against Japan in the Second World War. Cole was the co-pilot to James Doolittle, the leader of the raid. Sixteen Mitchell bombers were loaded on the US aircraft carrier Hornet and they were launched from the 600-foot flight deck when they were 650 miles from the Japanese coast. They bombed Tokyo before heading for Nationalist China. Cole and his crew baled out after crossing the Chinese coast and eventually were returned to Allied lines. He later flew transport aircraft in support of the campaign in Burma, served in Korea and retired in 1967. He was awarded the DFC and two clusters. In 2016 he attended the naming ceremony of the USAF’s latest bomber called ‘The Raider’.
In the photograph Cole is second from the right with Doolittle second from the left
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